Interview WithThe Automatic

Posted on October 5, 2008


The new album (’This is a Fix’) has more of a rock based sound than ‘Not Accepted Anywhere’, was that a natural progression, a conscious decision to move away from the last album’s sound or was it a result of the events leading up to recording such as the departure of Alex Pennie?
Robin Hawkins: It was fairly natural really, moving towards a rock sound. We’ve always listened, mostly, to rock bands and we always used to write rock music when we were kids. The first album was more of a move away from rock. We’re more returning to rock than moving towards it.

So as far as rock bands go who are your main influences?
Iwan Griffiths: The Manic Street Preachers were a big influence when we were starting off. When we were about 14 we’d all listen to them together and write.
RH: Yeah.
IG: For me, bands like Queens Of The Stone Age and Rage Against The Machine were bands that we used to cover when we were teenagers so it’s kind of cool to go more in that direction.

So is this the path that you’ll be following for the future albums?

RH: I think so yeah, especially with what we’ve been jamming on.
IG: Especially now that there are two guitars in the band and we’re writing a whole album with two guitars, its definitely a lot heavier the new stuff we’ve been writing.

So you’ve got new ideas sorted already then?
RH: A few things jammed out yeah.
IG: We’ve got five new songs.

So what’s the fan reaction been to the album and the new line-up at the shows?

IG: It’s been pretty cool
RH: Yeah, yeah.
IG: I think Paul (Mullen, new guitarist) has settled in really well and people have accepted him. I think now it’s more a case that people are there and they’re enjoying the music maybe more.
RH: I don’t feel like we’re being tested or anything when we’re at a gig. I think people like the new stuff anyway, which is the main thing.
IG: It’s cool to have two albums where we can actually have a choice of what to play. It’s quite hard to decide what songs we’re going to do sometimes now that we’ve got a lot of songs.

So how does the reaction to the band differ in places like the US? For example when you played the Vans Warped tour last year?
RH: It was just smaller really
IG: The US was quite hard because literally no-one knew who we were at all.
RH: It was like when we started out over here. Every day we were literally having to win over a new crowd from scratch. There was always the odd anglophile who knew who we were but it was really fun anyway and we always got a good reaction, it’s just there wasn’t a huge amount of people coming out to see us (laughs).
IG: I feel like we need to go back but if you want to break America then you have to be out there for a year or so probably just touring away unless you get on a TV show.

So are you planning on going back there anytime soon to further your position there?
IG: If they want us there!
RH: If they’ll have us! We’ve never been stopped at customs yet.
IG: If they ask us over we’d go but not at the moment. We’re focusing on home right now.

You mentioned Paul Mullen settling into the band really well. What has he brought with him to the band?
IG: He’s more musically minded. Pennie was like a showman. Paul is more of a musician so it’s definitely opened up the possibilities of what we can do as a band with the extra musician and skills.
RH: He’s got a different sounding voice to me as well by a long way so he takes the lead on a couple of tracks and it gives it a totally different sound again. So yeah, we’ve got a lot of scope for what we can do. A lot of variety.

There’s this general feeling when reading about you or reading interviews with you, that ‘Monster’ and Alex Pennie are almost taboo subjects. Any idea where that’s come from?

IG: I think people just assume. We’ve never stated that we don’t want to talk about these things.
RH: It’s probably how other bands have reacted about similar situations in the past.
IG: Yeah, but we’re cool to talk about anything really. ‘Monster’ was good for us and we wouldn’t have the recognition we have now without it. I think with this tour and with ‘Steve McQueen’ coming out and doing really well, it’s probably going down better than ‘Monster’ at the shows now. It only charted at 16 but that was only because our record label not getting it to iTunes the Thursday of the week of release which kind of shot us in the foot a bit.
RH: We reckon it would have been top ten if it weren’t for those lost sales.
IG: But it’s cool. I don’t think you could call us one hit wonders anymore. Not that we were before really. But yeah, we’ll talk about anything. It’s there if people want to know I guess.

So do you know what song will be released as the next single?

IG: It’s going to be ‘Magazines’, but that’s going to be in the New Year.

That’s quite a big gap between single releases.
IG: Yeah but we want to do it big and proper so we’re actually planning it well.
RH: Although the album is out, no-one really knows it’s out so there’s going to be the single then loads and loads of adverts for the album. Like “we’re Here!”
IG: We want to get out and tour as well really. We haven’t toured much this year compared to the last few years so it’s good out on the road again and we’ve got another month of touring in November.

Is there anything else you’d like to add to the people reading?

RH: Come to the gigs!

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